COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Story time is a special time for many young children. But on Friday, Congressman Sanford Bishop, who represents Georgia’s second congressional district, made it extra special by reading a book to children at Childcare Network #4 on Hamilton Road in Columbus. The book was “What I Want to Be” by Patricia Mignon Hinds. It’s about a young girl named Maya who explores all the things she could be when she grows up.

“I love to visit grandma on Saturdays,” Bishop read aloud. “We cuddle her on her big blue couch and talk to her for hours and hours.”

Some of the students listened to Bishop patiently while others fidgeted.

Above, children listen to Congressman Sanford Bishop reading them a story.

In the story, Maya’s grandmother asks her what she wants to be, after which Maya explores various options. At the end of the book, her grandmother tells her she could be anything she wants.

“But there’s one thing you’ll always be – Grandma’s special girl,” Bishop read aloud.

Bishop had the children repeat after him, “I can be all I want to be. I can be anything that I want to be. I can be a writer. I can be a doctor. I can be a nurse. I can be a baseball player. I can be a dress designer. I can be a teacher.”

He said the children in the room were “our future” and that according to experts, the early learning period of childhood is “vitally important” to children’s development.

“They will one day be doing what I do,” he said. “They’ll be doing what all of these adults do. You know that you’re the future. You make up 40% of our population, but you are all of our future. And so, we’re depending on you to decide what you want to be and to be the best at it. And to all of the staff here, the parents, I just want to say thank you for the nurture and the care that you give to these young people.”

Childcare Network #4 Director Vanessa Johnson thanked Bishop for being present and reading the book, especially considering his busy schedule.

Bishop was then invited to tour the building. During his tour, he sat down and talked to Ellen Reynolds, CEO of the Georgia Child Care Association, about her concerns for Georgia preschools.

“Today, I had the opportunity to spend time with early learners down to two years old,” Bishop said in an interview. “And of course, it was quite a treat. … And we have to invest in them and make sure that they have the resources that they need for their full growth and development so that they could reach their potential.”

Bishop’s visit was to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Georgia Pre-K program.